Are you ready for cloud gaming?

Palo Alto (CA) – There may soon be another option to play video games at home, in a very different way we have been used to so far. Rather than buying a fairly expensive console or PC, a small box promises to deliver games through the Internet to your TV or PC, no matter how powerful your local hardware is. Will cloud gaming have a chance to break through the barrier of modern game consoles and high-end PCs?

OnLive today said that it has developed the service over the past seven years and is ready to unveil it later tonight. It will consist of a small set-top box, about the size of a deck of cards, game controllers and the delivery service. The company promises that its customers will be able to play the “latest and most advanced games instantly, on any TV via a sleek, inexpensive MicroConsole, or on almost any PC or Mac.”  

A service that is described by OnLive as demand-based gaming, but more commonly would be called cloud gaming these days, has the potential to shift the way we perceive video gaming today – with advantages and disadvantages. One of the potential hurdles is yet another subscription-based service, which some consumers may find difficult to adapt to in exchange for their local game console or PC, that, after the hardware and a game is purchased, is basically free. And, of course, consumers depend on the availability of their Internet connection and the service itself to be able to play.

The upside is that the huge upfront cost is gone. There was no information how much Onlive will cost, but the company said that it will be “available in a variety of different pricing packages and tiers, competitively priced to retail.” Consumers will not have to worry about upgrade cost anymore and since OnLive claims that games can be easily ported to the platform, there is the potential that many games will be available through the service. The platform is currently supported by Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive Software, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, THQ, Epic Games, Eidos, Atari Interactive and Codemasters.

OnLive said that its technology is backed by over 100 patents and patents pending. Investors include Warner Bros., Autodesk and Maverick Capital.